Canadian sterol manufacturer Forbes Medi-Tech has significantly cut its losses after sales of the cholesterol-lowering ingredient shot up more than 80 per cent during 2003.
The company reported revenue of C$14.3 million for the year, citing strong demand and approval from the FDA for a phytosterol health claim as drivers of the major increase.
It has forecast revenues of $15.6 million for this year based on expected demand and new contracts for sterols. The company has already announced a plant expansion, from 1,000 to 1,500 tons, to cope with growing demand.
Currently Reducol is supplied to Pharmavite for its NatureMade brand dietary supplements, sold in mass market channels, but Forbes has recently announced a new distribution deal with US-based Marco Hi-tech and is also hoping that approval from European regulators this year will allow it to profit from a market more concerned about GM foods. Unlike soy-derived sterols, its phytosterols are produced from wood pulp.
The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) has cleared the safety of its Reducol brand but the firm is still waiting final novel foods approval for use of the product in specific food matrices, such as milk drinks, margarine and cheese.
The strong sales helped Forbes cut losses from C$4.1 million to C$1.06 million and also improved its balance sheet with working capital up to C$6.7 million from a deficit of C$3.5 million the prior year.
It has also gained new financing to back trials of sterol-based compounds targeted at the pharmaceutical industry.